Friday, August 29, 2014

Cave In!

Irwin Allen was pretty much done as the “Master of Disaster” by the time he produced this made-for-TV tripe in 1979, the same year he made BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. NBC waited four years to finally air it, and who cared about Irwin Allen in 1983? CAVE IN! got worse ratings than reruns of THE JEFFERSONS, NEWHART, and TRAPPER JOHN, M.D. on CBS.

Allen and director Georg Fenady (EMERGENCY!), perhaps suspecting it was a dud, kicks off CAVE IN! in media res with a car chase scored wacka-wacka-style by Richard LaSalle. Psycho killer James Olson (MOON ZERO TWO) escapes the fuzz on his tail and slips away into a cave played by Bronson Caverns on the outside and a phony-looking Warner Brothers soundstage set on the inside. Oh, and the cave is covered in phosphorous of various colors to explain how everyone can see each other.

Buried within are park ranger Dennis Cole (FELONY SQUAD), state senator Susan Sullivan (CASTLE), a cop (Leslie Nielsen) mourning his dead partner, Nielsen’s wife Julie Sommars (THE GOVERNOR AND J.J.), hectoring professor Ray Milland (playing the same barking asshat he played every day in the 1970s), and Milland’s wallflower daughter Sheila Larken (THE YOUNG LAWYERS).

All get melodramatic flashbacks, de rigeur for the disaster genre, as though anything else in their lives could be as interesting as getting trapped in a cave. William Bryant and Lonny Chapman play crusty park rangers who...well, I was going to say “work to help from the surface,” but they don’t really do anything except open a gate and keep an ambulance on standby. Don’t bother to guess who lives and who dies.

1 comment:

Grant said...

Somehow I can't get enough of those "superior" Ray Milland characters you mention. Including one of his two COLUMBO episodes, where his character is not only the killer, but enjoys talking down to nearly every other character in the story. (In the other episode it's just the opposite - he's not the killer but he's the victim's husband, and you get to see him show a sensitive side instead).
So that alone - getting to see one more smug Ray Milland character - might make me want to catch it.